It happens to the best people, the hardest-working people and the people who can least afford it.
It’s a job loss.
Whether you are laid off, fired, downsized, eliminated or whatever the term happens to be, it means the place you go in exchange for a paycheck and benefits no longer wants or needs you. And when that happens, it’s time to put the Thrifty Thirty-Two to work. These are common sense and locally sourced tips that can help you make it until you find work again.
- Sign up for loyalty programs, like Winn Dixie, which recently added a major price reduction strategy to their stores.
- Use coupons found in newspapers, magazines, mailers, flyers and the Internet. Shopping and coupon apps have the disadvantage of tracking your purchasing history once downloaded, so while you can save money using them, they come at the price of some of your privacy.
- Think outside the big grocery box store: CVS and Walgreens both carry food and beverage items in store and more extensively online.
- Don’t discount the high-end gourmet stores. A good example is North Palm Beach’s Doris Market, which offered deep discounts this week on pastas, tomato sauces, lunch meats and chicken breasts. There were also coupons for free eggs and their own bakery bread.
- Pantry IQ: Living in hurricane country, a well-stocked pantry is required during the season. But a job loss can be made more comfortable with a closet or a few shelves of nonperishable foods. Keep a supply of water, tea, coffee, soups, rice, pasta, sauces, cereals, snack bars, nuts, tuna, beans, dried fruit, canned fruits and vegetables, honey and spices on hand.
- Watch when you shop by buying in the opposite season. March is not the best time to search out new spring fashions, because they will be at their most expensive.
- Buy timeless and classic pieces that go with what you already own. Don’t spend money you cannot spare on fads and current fashions that won’t last.
- Assess what’s in your closet right now. Make repairs on items that need them and give your shoes a good cleaning and polishing.
- Walk around your house, inside and out. Make repairs or invest in having them done, before they get out of hand and cost you more money later.
- Call your insurance company and renegotiate your insurance coverage in order to lower it.
- Florida Power & Light offers free home energy assessments and other money and energy-saving ideas.
- Call your Internet/cable provider to see if changing your service or bundling your services would lower your bill. Consider dropping premium channels and using a free or low-cost streaming service for movies or TV shows, or be patient and rent them when they come out on DVD/Blu-Ray.
- Cut your water usage with low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads. You don’t have to buy entirely new; there are devices you can install in your current fixtures.
- Use software such as Mint, an Excel spreadsheet or even a legal pad to write down what you spend every month. Account for as close to every penny as possible. Then write down those expenses that are not monthly, such as taxes, auto tags and insurance. Don’t forget to include things like eating out, holiday gifts, credit card debt, personal grooming and dry cleaning.
- Then calculate how much money you have coming in.
- Now you can budget. You have to decide what is absolutely vital and must be paid every time, on time and what can wait.
Health and Medicine:
- Get a wellness checkup, preferably before you lose your job. Go over your medicines with your doctor, and find out if there are generic or cheaper alternatives to what you currently use.
- Compare COBRA coverage to buying private insurance and Affordable Care Act coverage. Going cheap here may not be the best solution: you have to determine what’s covered, how much out of pocket expense is tolerable, and whether your current doctors are on the plan of your choosing.
- Don’t forget dental care. It’s not often covered by standard insurance, but a minor dental problem can become a major dental problem, which becomes a major financial disaster.
- Children are expensive, and no parent wants to deny their child, even when times are tough. But a loss of income can be a lesson for kids. If they are old enough, they can do chores for neighbors, earn their own money, then start a bank account and have their first finance lessons.
- Involve the kids when you make your budget contingency plans. If some activities have to stop for lack of cash, then let them know it’s a temporary thing. Children who are involved in the decision-making process will be more likely to understand the reasons and accept the outcome.
- Use a credit card that pays you in reward points or airline miles, if you must use one at all.
- Pay off your credit card balance every month. Don’t hand the card issuer free money in the form of fees.
- If you cannot control the urge use plastic, remove the card(s) from your wallet and lock them up.
- Keep up with your car’s basic scheduled maintenance. It’s no different than keeping up your body’s basic maintenance. A little money spent on the small stuff goes a long way.
- Keep your car clean inside and out; regular wash, wax and detailing prolong the life of your vehicle.
- Open a bank account that pays you; there are banks that will gift you money to start an account with them.
- Use direct deposit and automatic dispersal: if you don’t handle the money, it means less temptation to spend it and fewer trips to the bank. And automatically dispersing money into various accounts (holiday club, savings, new car, taxes) means the money will be available when you need it.
Better than money:
- Sometimes, it’s not about the almighty dollar. What do you have to trade, exchange, consign and barter? Look at your closet for things you can take to a consignment shop to sell.
- Look at your skill set and exchange chores with someone who needs assistance. Use websites such as eBay, Freecycle and Craigslist and to sell what you don’t need or trade for something you need done.
- Learn to do simple repairs on leaky faucets, missing buttons, torn hems, loose doorknobs and a broken mailbox.
- You may prefer to keep the lawn service because it saves you time and allows you to look for a job, but you should still know how to mow, weed, seed and maintain your own yard. You never know how long it will take to find the job you want, the salary you expect and the benefits you need, all in one employment package.